Plan A: Let the course whittle the pack down. Don’t go with any break unless strong riders are in it. Plan B: If the pack stays together, sprint like hell.
I expected the mileage and climbing to break up the field more than they did. Specialized/Mazda/Juvederm had a bunch of riders at the front controlling the pace and occasionally launching failed attempts (or bluffs?) at breakaways. Lots of people crowded the yellow line, and I had to give a few riders the ol’ stink elbow to defend my space. There was an attack on the 3rd hill (paved road), but the group came back together on the descent. The next hill was a dirt/gravel stair step in 3 sections. It was easier to spin up it in the saddle to keep traction. I hung on a strong rider's wheel and hoped she would attack on the dirt descent. Yes! She went screaming down the dirt with me and another rider in tow. We had a gap and I was committed. We each pulled through several times, but one lady blew up. It wasn’t going to stick so we sat up and waited for the pack. The final dirt sections whittled away some of the strong riders, but the swarm behind us was still bigger than I expected.
The last 10 miles and final climb were really slow. Juvederm kept attacking and then sitting up. Crap, this was going to come down to a field sprint. I sat in somewhere around 8th wheel, took the inside corner on the final 2 turns, and passed everyone but Lex Albrecht (Juvederm) to take 2nd. Holy crap. P came rushing up with a hug and kept telling me that I sprinted like a missile. Finally when I asked how his finish was, he was all like, "Oh yeah, I won." Holy crap. Congrats to P on winning by 40 seconds as a newly minted cat 4!!! Did I mention I've been coaching him since November?